Saturday, April 1, 2017

A Few Thoughts on "Independence"

April 1 is the anniversary of the granting of autonomy to the Faroe Islands by the Kingdom of Denmark in 1948. This is an event most of the world is unconcerned with and there is little reason anyone should be. It is a quiet, distant outpost of the old Vikings that attracts little attention. I doubt most people in the world have ever heard of the Faroe Islands or could point them out on a map, however, I am glad that they opted for autonomy rather than claiming “independence” from the King of Denmark in 1948. Autonomy can be quite reasonable, quite rational and can make for a better government when local matters are handled on the local level rather than by a distant administration that may have a less than perfect understanding of the situation. Autonomy says, we will make our own decisions but we are going to maintain certain ties with the mother country. So, the Faroe Islands are an autonomous, rather than independent, country within the “Danish Realm”. The Danish Realm also includes Greenland and should have included the Kingdom of Iceland if they had not gone republican during World War II in a rather underhanded fashion.

What makes a word like “autonomy” so praiseworthy today is how unusually straightforward it is. These days, we tend to be ruled by emotion rather than reason, we tend to lie to ourselves and each other and will happily live totally delusional lies as long as that delusion makes us feel better about ourselves and this applies to entire countries as well as individuals. There are many countries today which claim to be independent which are actually nothing of the sort, they may or may not be autonomous but they are certainly not independent. The word “independent” has been so used and abused in the decades since World War II that I seriously doubt whether people in general actually know what this rather simple word means. Today, the word “independent” seems to be more like a sort of honorific title or a status symbol. Everyone wants to claim it and would take it as a terrible insult if you said the word should not apply. Allow me to give an example, featuring one of my least favorite people.

Some weeks ago when U.S. President Donald Trump issued his first budget proposal, this included rather large spending cuts to numerous government departments such as the Foreign Aid issued by the U.S. State Department. Fox News left-wing commentator, the perpetually grinning Richard Fowler, who can always be counted on to defend anything a Democrat does and condemn anything a Republic does, was on hand to denounce Trump’s proposed budget as not only unwise but inhumane and even, of course, “racist”! He said that there were countries in Africa which would not be able to feed their people if U.S. Foreign Aid was eliminated or cut back to the extent that Trump proposed. Now, he was not specific of course as to which countries in Africa are so poor and incompetent that curtailing their foreign assistance from the U.S. would plummet their population into starvation, but it is true that there are countries in the world that rely heavily on foreign assistance. I can remember, many years ago by now, being astounded to read of island chains in the Pacific, officially “independent” countries, whose primary source of income was U.S. Foreign Aid.

My point is, if there are African countries who depend on the United States so much that American help is required simply to keep them alive, why on earth is anyone pretending that these countries are “independent” in any way, shape or form? The amount of Foreign Aid is not even finally the point. As most know, the State of Israel actually receives more U.S. Foreign Aid than any other country in the world and they are far from being an impoverished land of starvation and disease. I would feel safe in assuming that if the U.S. cut off all Foreign Aid to Israel, there would be many angry words but the Israelis would still make it okay on their own somehow. If you are depending on another country, on another continent in fact, for something as basic as your people being able to eat, I do not see how such a country could be considered independent by any stretch of the imagination.

I do not recall if I made this point here before, but when the U.S. was experiencing the first wave of the women and children refugees from Central America flooding across the border (mostly the south Texas border), I made much the same point then. If the American people must take these people in and care for them because their country is too violent and poor to live in, then it means that the American people and the U.S. government that acts on their behalf (allegedly) is responsible for the security and well being of Central America. If that is true, I said at the time, we should stop pretending these are independent countries, send in the Marines, raise the ‘Stars & Stripes’ and start teaching these people English. This used to be something so simple that everyone could understand. You are either independent or you are not, if you are independent, you do not depend on anyone else for anything. However, if you are depending on another country to give you a good life, to keep you safe, even to feed you, you are clearly NOT independent!

This is partly why I consider so much of the talk, whether from liberals or libertarians, about “freedom” to be such drivel. People don’t really want real freedom. If they did, they would want independence because freedom always accompanies independence. Rather, they want to be taken care of, they want something for nothing, they want to act in a short-sighted, selfish manner and yet never have to suffer any consequences for it. They want to live a lie, a lie that says they are free people in an independent country whereas, in many instances, they are nothing of the sort. Some people are being at least a little bit honest about it. The U.S. territory of Puerto Rico is pushing to become the 51st state of the Union. The Democrats would love to have another “Blue state” to add to the voting rolls, the Republicans are less enthusiastic about taking in an economic basket case that would instantly become the poorest state in America. They would rather see Puerto Rico sever all ties and become independent but the Puerto Rican government, having spent themselves into a bottomless pit of debt by pandering to the public (and lining their own pockets in the process) want to become even more dependent on the U.S.A. because then the American taxpayers will be permanently responsible for taking care of them.

Nor is this a purely African or Latin American problem. No, Europe has many of the same issues. Members of the European Union are supposed to be independent countries and yet they cannot control their immigration policy, cannot control their monetary  policy and can have their own governments and courts overruled by a higher power. That is NOT independence! Up in Canada, Greco-Ukrainian truth-teller Faith Goldy at “The Rebel” recently cited her reasons for not celebrating Greek independence day this year; because Greece is not really independent anymore. She makes a very straight-forward and fact based argument. My only problem is counting “democracy” as one of the great contributions of the Greeks to western civilization since the very leaders she rightly accuses of selling out Greek independence were all voted into office democratically. The people voted themselves into bondage to the money-lenders because they wanted to go on receiving more from the state than they were willing to pay into it.

In the old days, it seems to me, people were more open and honest about this sort of situation and took a more dispassionate view of the subject of independence. Even today, for example, the Principality of Monaco is a legally sovereign country but not technically an independent one. They are a protectorate of the French Republic and, as such, the French government still has certain rights in Monaco. No one seems to mind this too much because they realize that they are simply too small a country to be completely and truly independent. Much the same could be said about the relationship, not identical but similar, between the Principality of Liechtenstein and the Swiss Confederation. After the demise of the Austrian Empire, little Liechtenstein had a hard time going it alone and so entered into a customs union with Switzerland. Again, no one felt bad about it or shamed about it, regarding it in a very rational way as something that needed to be done. At the opposite end of the spectrum, you have groups such as the Scottish National Party which howl all the time about their desire for Scottish “independence” but also their desire to maintain their subservience to the European Union. They do not really want independence at all, simply to replace dependence on London with dependence on Brussels. Why they find the EU preferable to the UK, I don’t know but that is the situation.

The bottom line is, we need to stop living in fairyland with everyone playing let’s pretend and get back to reality. We need to call a spade a spade, be honest and up front with ourselves and each other. We need to say that if you are a country that depends entirely on the Chinese for your infrastructure and on the Americans for your livelihood, if your resources are all owned by tycoons in Peking and all your medical care comes from ‘Doctors Without Borders’ then you are not an independent country and have no business pretending to be. If you are part of the EU and have your foreign policy, immigration policy, monetary policy all dictated by Brussels and depend on the German taxpayers to keep your people in unemployment and old age pensions, you are not an independent country and should stop calling yourself one. Let your “yes” mean yes and your “no” mean no, face reality, face facts and stop putting pride and emotion before common sense. Because, as it stands now, this era of self-delusion has brought the world to the brink of disaster and enslavement to a tiny, global elite with no other interest in mind but their own.

1 comment:

  1. Excellent, as always. I rarely comment but always read.


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